Take your business from good to great with these tips

Take your business from good to great with these tips

What makes a great brand great? Take a cue from some of the most successful businesses and embrace the following three elements: Consistency: This refers to every touch point–from branding to the actual delivery of the customer experience. Do your marketing pieces flow and complement each other? Are you using recognizable colors, graphics and brand voice? When customers buy your product or service, is the quality dependable? These are all factors that need to be taken into account. Focus: The “jack of all trades, master of none” business mentality does not serve most companies. That’s because you run the risk of coming across inauthentic and generic. Determine what defines you as a brand and stay true to that. Customers will respect that approach more than a brand that just latches on to what’s trendy. Community Investment: Many businesses exist not only to turn a profit to make the lives of employees, customers and the community at large better. While giving back in terms of money is one approach, it really comes down to a general attitude of gratitude. This in turn can engender brand—and business, loyalty. Which one of these qualities can you improve on in 2017? How will you go about...
Create some buzz with a business event

Create some buzz with a business event

What are your goals for 2017? If increasing awareness about your company or brand is among the priorities, you might consider hosting a business event. Here’s a quick guide to getting the most out of such an endeavor: 1) Determine the scope. How many guests will be invited and how will the guests list be determined? Will you offer a full dinner, or will it just be soft drinks and cookies? Will you have speakers or live entertainment? How about door prizes? These details will set the tone. What message are you trying to send? 2) Set a date. Timing is everything as they say. Be careful to plan around holidays or any other special events going on in your city. You could even play on an upcoming pop culture event, like a Super Bowl themed event. 3) Delegate. Who will be in charge of planning and execution? Will you have a committee? If you have the budget, you might even consider hiring an event planner. 4) Set a budget. Be realistic. You don’t want to skimp but you also don’t want to overextend yourself either. Get quotes from multiple vendors so you can ensure you’re getting the best deal. 5) Create a marketing plan. How will your customers and prospects know about your event? Will you use social media as well as traditional media? How will you track their effectiveness? 6) Follow up. The engagement shouldn’t end when the event does. Do you have a system for following up with guests? What are the next steps? Let us know how it...
Grow your business with Instagram

Grow your business with Instagram

Instagram can be an effective way to market your business. Make it work better for you by taking these three tips into consideration: 1) Form strategic partnerships. What good is an account if you don’t have followers? To start, create a list of popular accounts that would appeal to your target audience. When you’ve found them, you can then partner with them for what they call “shout-outs.” As you begin to gain momentum, you can drive those followers to your website and create specific calls to action. 2) Create content worth sharing. A standout Instagram post boasts both beautiful imagery and engaging text. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Be strategic about your selection. Remember a good photo evokes emotion and drives engagement. What this will look like for your business will depend on your industry and products, but think beyond pushing your products. After all, no one wants to be “sold.” You might consider inspirational or humorous graphics paired with appropriate text, or pose a question to encourage feedback. 3) Ask for engagement. Ever feel like you’re talking to an empty room after you post something online? You might not be direct enough. What action do you want the follower to take? Outright ask them to engage. For example, ask them to “double tap” if they agree with your post, or tell them to tag a friend. You might be surprised how effective a simple ask can be! Mastering the art and science of Instagram can have a significant impact on your reach, brand awareness, and ultimately the financial health of your...
Wow them with great customer service

Wow them with great customer service

If you ask a business owner how they are different from their competition, they will likely note customer service. But are you really walking the walk, when it comes to this area? Whether you sell B2B or B2C, your customers’ appetite for good service is only increasing, which means your service level must be up to snuff. Here’s how to take your customer service to the next level: Motivate employees. Help them help you succeed. That means helping them understand the goals you want them to reach and how you’re measuring them. Communicate your expectations and make sure they have the knowledge and tools they need to deliver top-of-the-line service. For instance, you might create a cheat sheet of answers to FAQs or customer service procedures to follow so employees can have this at their fingertips. It doesn’t have to be all serious either. You might consider engaging employees in friendly competitions and offer prizes for the winners. Or motivate employees to top their own sales goals by tracking their numbers and trying to improve by a certain amount each month or quarter. Data tells a story. If you conduct customer surveys or other means to assess satisfaction on the regular, you might be best served to review it monthly to look for big-picture trends. For example, if you’ve recently hired new personnel and customer problems are suddenly taking longer to resolve, perhaps it’s a training issue that needs to be addressed. Tune in. What are customers or prospects saying on social media and online rating and review sites? You can use social media monitoring platforms so you can...
The making of an expert

The making of an expert

Call it the chicken and egg phenomenon. People won’t take you seriously unless they perceive you as someone who know’s what they’re talking about, but how do you become an expert in the first place? It’s an ongoing process that requires laser focus, commitment and a variety of strategies, including: Build and establish credibility by writing articles for industry publications. It’s now easier than ever to find publications looking for new content. A good starting point is to secure a spot as a guest author in niche industry blogs. This will help you build some momentum (and samples) to pitch to larger publications. Make sure your articles are on point and error-free. No editor wants to waste his or her time correcting basic grammar.  Publish a book. The Internet has made it possible to self-publish. Writing a book can give you the leverage you need to impress clients, vendors and others. Speak at industry events. Seek out the types of events your ideal clients would attend. Put the time in to hone your public speaking skills so you can connect deeply with your audiences. If this doesn’t come naturally, you might consider joining a Toastmaster International club to build confidence and gain feedback in a non-threatening setting. Focus on the details. Autograph your work with excellence. Produce good work consistently and people will want to keep hiring you.  Land high-profile clients. It only takes one big name company to change your company’s trajectory. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith by pitching to the big guns in town. These ideas are a good start. Remember, the expert was once the amateur. No...
Make the most of your mentoring relationship

Make the most of your mentoring relationship

Most people don’t get far in life without some sort of guidance. Mentoring or being mentored can be a wonderful gift, especially to entrepreneurs just starting out. If you’d like to be on the receiving end of this relationship, it’s a good idea to follow some ground rules. Here are a few: Be open to feedback. If you enlist the help of someone, be open to hearing their suggestions and constructive criticism. It’s all part of the process of self-betterment. Make it easy. When you want someone’s help, make it easy for them to help you. Most people are juggling a lot between work and personal life. If they can’t make time for lunch, offer to bring their favorite beverage to them and have the session there. Show appreciation. A cup of coffee or lunch every now and then can go a long way. People like to be acknowledged and small gestures can speak louder than words. Show your value. It’s not supposed to be all take and no give. Make it easy for them to mentor you. Ask direct questions and respect their time. Ask. Before asking for help, always know exactly what you want from a mentor; otherwise it will be a waste of time for both parties. Know where to look. You might find a mentor in an unsuspecting place. Think traditional venues like business organizations, nonprofit organizations, within your family, church groups, and even your local coffee shop. If you have ever mentored someone, what tips can you add to help enhance the...